• Published 17th May 2013
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The Thirty Minute Dash - Esle Ynopemos

Nopony's faster than the Dash!

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14: Shadowbolt [A.U.] [Dark]

((Prompt: The world is all darkness. Tomorrow will be pitch black.
Tomorrow will be a great day.))

This was the part she loved. The part she lived for. The moment she saw the fear and respect dawn in their faces. The moment they realized what was truly going on, that they were in the presence of the Shadowbolts. Rainbow Dash lived for this.

She let her profile slide across the moon, sneering as the foals below broke into panic. Idiots, every last one of them. Like they really believed they could outrun the Shadowbolts. She held her altitude above the town as her wingmates swooped down, corralling the ponies into the center of the town square.

Shouts and yelps of fear rose throughout the village. What was this place called, again? Dash stooped to take a glance at the decaying plaque above the town hall. Oh yes, Ponyville. Now she remembered. She had once been a lowly weather manager in this pathetic dump. That was before the night had come. She gave silent praise to the Moon that so much had changed since then. The thought that she would still have been a cloud-pusher for some worthless little dirt-hole if not for her Queen's glorious ascension made Dash physically ill.

Instead, she was the captain of the most feared flight of pegasi in Equestria. Grown ponies trembled at the mention of her name, and fillies and colts fearfully asked their parents to check if she was perched on their roof before they could fall asleep. It was all she had ever dreamed.

The majority of the town was rounded up into the central square by now. There were only a few foalish stragglers and holdouts. Snake and Moonlight would be rougher on them than they were on the rest. Examples needed to be made, after all.

Rainbow landed on the small platform in front of town hall. She smirked as gasps ran through the crowd before her. Weaklings and cowards.

She cleared her throat, and spoke in a slow, deliberate tone. “I guess you're all wondering what has brought you the honor of a visit from the Shadowbolts, huh?”

The crowd was locked in terrified silence. Nopony dared to bring attention to themselves by speaking. Pathetic.

Rainbow curled her lip and paced to the end of the stage. “Well, maybe not all of you are wondering,” she said. “Some of you know exactly why we're here.” She gave a signal to her lieutenant, who dropped a wooden barrel onto the stage.

Dash kicked the barrel over. Bruised and rotten apples rolled out, tumbling over the edge of the platform. Ponies at the front of the crowd yelped and scrambled back. “When Nightmare Moon demands food as tribute,” she snarled, “you send her stuff that's edible, not the slop that you would feed to the hogs!”

Frightened murmurs rippled through the townsfolk. Dash smirked. Let them stew for a little bit, let them wonder about just what sort of punishment was coming to them for their misdeed. Then they would beg her to take their best stock.

A voice rose above the din, steady and clear. “Ya don't like it, ya can go ahead an' starve!”

Dash's eyes narrowed. She gave a small nod, and Moonlight shot into the crowd. The Shadowbolt pushed an orange pony up to the front of the stage. Dash remembered this one. Applejack.

“Would you care to repeat that?” Dash said, flaring her wings.

Applejack looked at her with defiant eyes. “Food don't grow without sunlight,” she said. “That there's a barrel of the best we got left. If you don't like it, y'all can go home hungry.”

Rainbow Dash flicked her tail, and picked up a mushy, worm-ridden piece of fruit. Moonlight put the farmer into a rough headlock while Dash jumped off of the stage, the moldy apple in her hoof. “You're a liar,” she said, and shoved the rotten apple in her face. “Your queen, in her endless majesty, enchanted the moon so that plants could grow by moonlight!”

Applejack coughed and spat the greasy chunks of fruit out. “It don't work,” she gasped. “The plants that do grow are weak an' sick, an' we can't eat 'em!”

Rainbow Dash snorted. “You're just not trying hard enough.” She beat her wings against the air, and rose back to the stage, addressing the whole town. “Listen up, all of you! The moon turns in two hours. If you haven't scraped together an acceptable offering of food by then, well,” she laughed sharply, “I'd hate to be in your horseshoes! Shadowbolts, move out!”

Dash took to the air with her Shadowbolts in line behind her. They would circle the edge of the town, punish anypony that thought they could use those two hours to try and escape instead of gathering food.

The moon crept toward the horizon. Soon it would reach the mountains in the west, stop, and begin traveling back to the east again. That was how they measured days under Nightmare Moon's reign. In two hours, a new “day” would begin, and it would be just as black as the one before it.

Tomorrow would be another great day.